Classes at the Vocational Training and Resource Center are now open to the public thanks to accreditation from the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education. The vocational school, which is operated by the Tlingit-Haida Central Council, was previously open to only tribal members. The school’s manager, Laird Jones, said the accreditation is good for the council and for the community.
“We can now advertise and make these courses available to the general public,” Jones said. “We are now able to get some additional revenues and it also helps the communities in general.”
Vocational education opportunities are limited in Southeast. Jones said the school partners with Penn Foster, an online degree program, to offer about 40 courses. The school currently has one facilitator to help students with coursework. Jones said the school will hire more, some possibly outside of Juneau, as enrollment increases.
“One of the things that we’ve learned that with distance classes is there are a fair amount of folks that sign up and don’t complete because of a lack of local support,” Jones said. “Initially our facilitators will be in Juneau. We’re looking to partner with a local organization in Prince of Wales to help with the tutoring aspect.”
The ACPE also approved the expansion of the council’s commercial driver’s license training program in Ketchikan and Prince of Wales. Jones said the school is the only organization in Southeast that offers CDL Class A training in Southeast.
“Prince of Wales is having a lot of local projects,” Jones said. “They’re building two mines and considering a hydro project, so there’s a real need for people with (commercial driver’s licenses).”
Jones said the expansion of the CDL program and vocational school should help small communities improve and keep their workforce.
“People who don’t want to leave their communities can now get this training,” Jones said.
• Contact reporter Jennifer Canfield at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.